Piro sat in the front room watching the television; He couldn't remember a time when he had been more miserable.
It had started off well enough; Erika had talked to Ping and explained her concern about Largo showing up again. Ping had grudgingly agreed that she had a good point and they had begun discussing plans for redecorating the apartment.
Piro wasn't sure what had happened next.
He had heard Erika asking Ping if there was a problem, the next thing he knew the two were arguing loudly about whether Erika was telling the truth about her fears of Largo.
That was when Erika started to cry. That had scared Piro.
He had tried to talk to them then but everything he said only seemed to make things worse until both of them were mad at him. It had been a relief when they suddenly decided to go into the kitchen and have tea.
Piro stayed in the front room.
<Hi, Piro-san! >
Star tled, Piro looked up, <Oh hi, Nanasawa-san. How was your day? >
Kimiko smiled at Piro and sat down beside him. <My day was pretty good. > She looked around, <What is going on? >
Piro shrugged, <Erika and Ping had a fight, and they are in the kitchen making up now I think. >
Kimiko pursed her lips, <Is that so? > Without waiting for an answer she went to the kitchen.
<Hi Erika, Hi Ping! >
Erika looked up at Kimiko; her eyes were swollen and red. Ping looked over too, amazingly her eyes seemed to be just as red as Erika's is. The two gave Kimiko sad, tight smiles then Ping stood, <Would you like some tea, Nanasawa-san? >
Kimiko shook her head, <No, thank you. >She walked over and put a hand on Erika's shoulder. <Piro told me a little bit, do you two need some more time? >
Erika and Ping looked at each other then back at Kimiko and shook their heads in unison. Kimiko gave t hem both a smile, <Say, why don't I go pick up something for us to eat? I know the two of you probably don't feel like cooking or going out. >
Erika leaned over and hugged Kimiko around the waist, <Thank you, that would be nice. I am sort of hungry now. >
Ping perked up immediately, < That would be very nice of you! I'm hungry too! >
Kimiko and Erika both looked at Ping then back at each other and shrugged, Kimiko turned to leave, <and I'm taking Piro with me to help carry the food! Bye! >
Piro turned as he heard his name, his mouth flew open as Kimiko took his hand, <Come on, Piro-san! We're going to get something for dinner! >
Kimiko didn't let go of his hand as they left the building; instead she twined her fingers with his as they walked in silence. Piro didn't know what to think he had never expected this. He felt tension leaving him the farther the got from the apartment only to have it return as he guiltily thought how good holding Kimiko's hand felt.
<So they were pretty rough on you? >
Piro started, <Umm, yeah. They got mad because they said I couldn't make up my mind. > He looked around, <I really don't think that Ping wants to move away. It's just that there's no privacy for us or you and Erika. >
Kimiko's lips got tight as she thought about the familiar way he talked about Erika these days, it was seldom that he called her Hayasaka-san anymore.
<It's really not that bad, Piro. Though I'm sure that the folding bed isn't too comfortable. >
Piro laughed; <It's a lot better than what I was sleeping on in that attic apartment! >
Kimiko released his hand as they approached the corner market, <I guess some cheap bentou should be good enough, right? >
Piro nodded in agreement as they entered the store.
On the way back Kimiko led the way as Piro carried the stack of boxes, <Are you sure that Ping wanted some? >
Kimiko slowed down to walk beside him, <Yes, she said that she was hungry. >
Piro was silent for a minute before he spoke again, <Thank you, Nanasawa-san. >
She looked quizzically, <What for? >
<Getting me out, cheering me up. >
Kimiko smiled, <Well, you looked like you needed to take a walk. >
They walked a little farther in silence then Kimiko spoke, <I haven't gotten to spend much time with you lately. Erika and Ping have been keeping you to themselves. >
Piro chuckled; the very idea of any girl trying to keep him to herself just seemed funny.
<You think it's funny? >
Piro blushed, <Well, yes. I mean look at me. >
Kimiko stepped closer, her hip brushing against him <Oh, I do look at you. >
Kimiko lightly touched the small of his back, <Yes, really. >
Piro didn't know what to say he stopped and looked over at Kimiko. She turned to face him and smiled, <I'd like to see a lot more of you too. >
Piro swallowed, <But you're always so busy! >
Kimiko touched his lips with the tip of her finger, <Hush. >
She smiled at him then turned and continued walking; they were nearly back to the apartment. <Piro, sometimes late at night I like to go out on the balcony and look out at the city. It's very pretty. >
She smiled, <Yes, really. > She looked over at him, <If you'd like to join me sometime I would really enjoy the company. >
Piro was quiet for a moment, they were at the door to the building, <I think I'd enjoy that too Nanasawa-san. >
Kimiko looked at him as she reached for the doorknob, <You must promise me one thing though. >
<What is that? >
<That you will call me Kimiko, okay? >
Piro smiled at her, <Okay, Kimiko. >
When they got back Ping and Erika were cheerfully looking at a magazine Erika had purchased earlier that day, commenting on the room designs in it. After they had eaten the bentou they all settled down in front of the television with Piro in the middle, Erika to the right, Kimiko to the left and Ping leaning back against his knees.
Piro idly fondled Ping's hair as the two girls on either side of him rested their heads on his shoulders. He never noticed the glances that they exchanged. It was better for him that he didn't.